Two area teachers named finalists for Kansas Teacher of the Year
Denise Kahler, Director of Communications, 785-296-4876
TOPEKA—Sept. 8, 2013—Brandi Leggett, a third-grade teacher at Prairie Ridge Elementary School in Shawnee (De Soto USD 232), and Jennifer R. Smith, an eighth-grade social studies teacher at Lakewood Middle School in Overland Park (Blue Valley USD 229), were named Region 3 finalists for the 2014 Kansas Teacher of the Year award today. This award recognizes excellent teaching in the elementary and secondary classrooms of the state.
The announcements were made during ceremonies at the Marriott Hotel in Overland Park. As finalists for the Kansas Teacher of the Year distinction, Leggett and Smith each received a $2,000 cash award from Security Benefit, a major partner in the Kansas Teacher of the Year program. In addition, they are now eligible to be named Kansas Teacher of the Year, an award that will be announced during ceremonies in Wichita on Nov. 23.
Leggett and Smith were among six Teacher of the Year semi-finalists from Region 3, which covers the third U.S. congressional district. Other semi-finalists were Shauna A. Hammett, an elementary reading teacher at Shawanoe Elementary School in Shawnee Mission (Shawnee Mission USD 512); Elizabeth “Liz” Long, a first-grade teacher at Edgerton Elementary School (Gardner Edgerton USD 231); Jennifer Thomas, a ninth-grade science teacher at Turner High School in Kansas City (Turner USD 202); and Kelly Ulmer, an eighth-grade science teacher at Santa Fe Trail Middle School in Olathe (Olathe USD 233). Each of the semi-finalists received a red marble apple with a wooden base, compliments of The Master Teacher in Manhattan. Statewide, 105 educators were nominated for the Kansas Teacher of the Year distinction.
Nominations are made in each of four regions in the state. The Kansas State Department of Education, sponsor of the Kansas Teacher of the Year program, appoints regional selection panels comprised of teachers, education administrators, and higher education representatives to select semi-finalists and finalists from each region.
Each panel selects six semi-finalists – three elementary teachers and three secondary teachers. From those semi-finalists, the panel in each region then selects one elementary finalist and one secondary finalist. The Kansas Teacher of the Year is selected from among the state’s eight regional finalists.
The mission of the Kansas Teacher of the Year program is to build and utilize a network of exemplary teachers who are leaders in the improvement of schools, student performance, and the teaching profession. The Kansas Teacher of the Year team, comprised of the Teacher of the Year and state finalists, serve as ambassadors for education in Kansas, making public appearances across the state promoting education and the teaching profession.
The individual selected as the Kansas Teacher of the Year is eligible for national distinction as Teacher of the Year. The National Teacher of the Year program, sponsored by Target, is a project of the Council of Chief State School Officers, in partnership with the ING Foundation, the University of Phoenix and People to People Ambassador Programs.
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